India’s First Student to Australia Says Attacks Overblown as Racist

The first Indian student having been educated in Australia has said that the recent attacks on Indian students have been overblown as racist.

Gurcharn Sidhu, 82, who, under the Colombo Plan, was one of independent India’s first students to be educated in Australia in 1951, said that these attacks are not “overly blatant acts of racism” by Australians.

Sidhu said that maybe there was some racism, but there were other considerations behind these attacks.

“Many Indian students tell me they are often attacked by lumpen elements and drug addicts, mostly at night on subway trains,” he said, “there is nothing systematically racist about these attacks. There are other reasons as well.”

“Economically, these are tough times. Jobs are disappearing, and people are frustrated. Some of them might do crazy things,” said the long-time Sydney resident.

He said that he never saw any Indian being assaulted during all the time he has lived Australia.

He said that some people used to target Italians and Greeks with racist comments in the 1950s and that’s all people ever faced even when Australia followed ‘whites-only’ policy.

He was of the view that India has benefited immensely from educational ties with Australia and a few incidents should not be allowed to sever them.

“Please remember, the green revolution in India was pioneered by scientists educated in Australia. We – the first batch of five – finished our Ph.D. here and returned to Punjab to set up Punjab Agriculture University and usher in the green revolution,” said Sidhu, who returned to Australia in the early 1960s.

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